Gerlach Anounces Retirement From Congress

Congressman Jim Gerlach announced he will not seek re-election to Congress this year.  The former State Senator and Congressman cited time away from his family, the grind of running every two years and Washington gridlock (for which he is largely responsible) for his decision.  The open seat is garnering national attention as a possible pick-up for Democrats.

I expect State Sen. Rafferty to make  amove on the GOP side.  Rumors also are speculating about Sam Rohrer, Curt Schroder and others.  On the Democratic side I’ve seen names such as Sen. Judy Schwank and Doug Pike.  I spoke briefly with Schwank about the seat two months ago on behalf of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee which approached her about running.  At that time she declined to run.

Pike ran in the Democratic primary four years ago and is a fixture at Democratic Party functions.  He padded his resume back then claiming health care management experience he really didn’t have and lost a close race to Manan Trivedi.  I’m not sure he’s currently living in the 6th District as borders changed with redistricting.  One possible entrant I would get excited about is State Rep. Mark Rozzi of Berks County.

Cox’s Property Tax Bill Dies In Committee

Rep. Jim Cox’s property tax bill was killed when it was tabled yesterday.  HB 1776 would have replaced school taxes with increased PIT (personal income tax) and sales taxes.  It would, essentially, waive taxes on business and industry and shift that burden to working people and the poor.  The very regressive nature of sales taxes means poor folks pay a higher percentage of their income for this tax than middle and upper class folks.

1776 was embraced by a number of Democrats including Sen. Judy Schwank and Rep. Thomas Caltagirone.  It originated by Rep. Sam Rohrer as the Commonwealth Caucus Plan a number of years ago.  It has limited support due to its regressive nature.  There’s no plausible reason a Democrat should ever support this scheme.  If business and industry want an educated workforce they need to pay their fair share.  The only sane method under 1776 is to close corporate tax loopholes and raise corporate taxes to offset the loss of property taxes paid by these entities.  All this bill did was help business while hurting people.

News & Notes June 11, 2012

I was at Philly Pride yesterday, have never seen such a huge turnout.  It was wall to wall people enjoying great weather, lots of interesting booths and people and constant entertainment.  I ran into Tony from Delco and Sherrie Cohen who was working at the Liberty City Democrats booth.  Dan Sauder was there distributing materials on the ACA for Keystone Progress.  I missed seeing my old friend Doug Shaps who succumbed last year to cancer.

Tom Corbett’s approval rating, down to 34% before the announcement of the sell-out to Shell, will continue sinking as he implements his radical agenda.  The Reading School District notified 110 teachers last week that they’ve lost their jobs.  Sixty more won’t be replaced.  How many of them do you think will vote for Gov. Gasbag?  Security guards are also on the hit list raising concerns about teacher safety.

Now Corbett wants to alter the state’s major building program.  Many public and private structures were built providing excellent jobs for workers under the program.  Capital projects funded by cheap interest rates are a major stimulus system, too bad our Governor doesn’t support it.

I was bemused this morning reading this article in The Reading Eagle.  I’m visualizing a group of young women in wedding gowns herding a loose horse…   Did the paper lay off all of its editors too?

Another amusing article is this one about the bank robber who ran out of gas.  If you need a getaway car shouldn’t you insure it has fuel before robbing the bank?  With gas prices what they are though he likely had to rob the bank to get gas.

Perhaps we need to return to the days of horseback riding.  A celebration of the Pony Express was re-enacted last week in New Mexico.

Shame on lawmakers who willfully vote to restrict their children’s rights.  They should be outed as bigots instead of their kid’s sexual orientations.

It took ten years to gather caucasian and Hispanic business people in one room in racially divided Hazleton.  Major League manager Joe Maddon helped get it done.  Congressman Lou Barletta used bigotry, hate and division to ride himself to Washington, DC leaving a shattered community behind.  Now that he’s gone as Mayor progress is being made.

Sen. Judy Schwank has a resolution drafted to build a comprehensive plan for education.  This was done before and called a costing out study.  The state was implementing it until Corbett came along and shredded it.  Plans don’t do any good when one idiot can undermine everything.

The police brutality against OWS protesters was designed to intimidate and threaten anyone condemning the 1% whose criminal behavior is destroying the country.  Now the cops aren’t even bothering to show up for the court dates.  Every arrested protester needs to sue the City of New York then go back tot he streets.  Each cop needs to be arrested for violating people’s civil rights.

I just read the book “The World Without Us” which discusses what’ll happen when homo sapiens becomes extinct.  With rapidly advancing climate change this is a distinct possibility.  We won’t even know when we’ve crossed the tipping point, when nothing we do can save us from our moronic selves.  If the species is too stupid to recognize the damage being done we don’t deserve to survive.  That’s evolution and the world will evolve without us.

Speaking of stupid, David Barton thinks people are on welfare because they don’t read the Bible.  It isn’t because we don’t educate them, provide jobs which support people or because of institutional racism and bigotry or because wall Street greed collapsed the economy.  It is because they don’t know the whale devoured Jonah.  Some people should become extinct.

The Koch brothers are totally corrupting our country and destroying democracy.   Capitalsim will be the end of democracy in this nation.  The corrupt businessmen have already undermined our national security by dealing with Iran despite sanctions.  Money trumps everything for these two greedy bastards.

Ed Rendell, in his speech Saturday at the PA Dems meeting, spent a few minutes talking about all the good we do at Planned Parenthood.  Thanks Ed!

In yet another example of how the Castle Doctrine and Stand Your Ground laws are nothing more than legalized murder a man in Texas instigated a fight then shot a teacher who WAS standing his ground.  It’s time to repeal this mob induced legislation.

Dr. Jill Biden Visits Reading Area Community College

The Secpond Lady visited RACC today as part of her Community College to Career” tour.  She participated in a discussion among those with the College, students and community companies such as Hershey Foods, Carpenter Technology and East Penn Manufacturing.

The video:

I spoke about the event with Reading Mayor Vaughn Spencer and State Sen. Judy Schwank:

Legislative Caucuses Present Dueling Tax Plans

Rep. Jim Cox unveiled the newest iteration of the failed Commonwealth Plan for property tax reform joined by several conservative, anti-worker Democrats.  Meanwhile Senate Democrats introduced their own plan yesterday.  The Cox plan, a derivative of Sam Rohrer’s notoriously regressive “reform” which died when its numbers didn’t add up replaces school property taxes with a higher personal income tax and expanded sales tax.

Sales taxes are very regressive because they drain more, as a percentage, of a working or poor person’s income than a rich one.  Property taxes, by their nature are progressive because they more valuable your property the more you remit.  Businesses and industry also pay property taxes and are the biggest beneficiaries of “reform.”  Isn’t it interesting that legislators like Cox and Tom Caltagirone (D-Allentown Diocese) support a system which provides a huge tax exemption to businesses while shifting that burden to working people?  Since they’d now tax coffins this would, in reality, enact a “death tax.”  Democratic House candidate Frank Denbowski, who would be another Caltagirone lapdog, came out in support of the Republican plan this week.

By comparison the Senate Democratic plan, touted by Vince Hughes and Judy Schwank, among others, would pump another $1 billion into spending for job creation, education, the disabled and health care for kids which Gov. Corbett has slashed.  A gas extraction tax which is commensurate with the value of the resource plus an end to the Delaware Loophole would raise about that amount of money.  Senate Democrats have advocated changing the personal income tax to a progressive system which would result in greatly reducing or eliminating school property taxes.  This shifts the burden back onto those best able to afford it rather than those who cannot.  Eliminating a major tax on businesses and corporations and shifting that to working people is immoral.

Medaglia Challenger Promises to Revamp Office, Eliminate Deficits

When Larry Medaglia Jr. decided to run for the 11th State Senatorial seat following Mike O’Pake’s death it created an examination of his management as Berks County Register of Wills.  I got hold of his last ten years budgets and found mounting annual deficits.  Had he been spending funds to modernize the office and move documents and services online part of the massive drain on taxpayers might have been justified.  None of that was being done however and it turned out the elected public official was spending much of his work day moonlighting at another job.

It must be nice to collect two paychecks at once and simply hire managers to run your county courthouse office.  Bernardo Carbajal is running against Medaglia so he can do all of the above.  He has a six point plan which includes working full time as Register of Wills and Clerk of the orphans Court which means giving up his career as a Reading attorney.  He says he will re-evaluate the need for four managers for three employees and conduct an audit too improve efficiency.  He would move historical records online for those who research geneology and make that segment of the office profitable.  He would also make applying for marriage licenses electronic and accept estate probates through an internet portal.  

Carbajal believes he can do all of this while reducing the enormous and growing deficit which is taxing the citizens of Berks County.  While he doesn’t have any financial projections he says proper management and having a full time Register of Wills will turn around the dismal financial performance of the office.

News & Notes April 18, 2011

Those Tea Party folks are at it again, wildly claiming on one hand they aren’t rabid racists while, on the other, they distribute emails showing the Obamas as apes.  Tea bagger and GOP Orange County Republican (CA) official Marilyn Davenport did the dirty deed this time.  After getting caught she pandered with the usual “I’m not a racist” line.

Racist is as racist does.

Township supervisors meeting in Hershey aren’t pleased with Corbett’s refusal to tax gas drillers.  “They’re poisoning our water” was one comment shouted as as the Governor spoke this morning.

Sen. Judy Schwank got off to a rough start with Berks Democrats with the cold and brutal way a staffer was furloughed.

Today is the deadline for filing your federal tax returns.  The AP reports that 45% of all Americans pay no income taxes?  Why?  They’re too poor.  What does it say about us that corporations and the rich are paying less and less while the people fall into lives of poverty?

At the morning meeting in Hershey (I’m reporting these as they come in via Twitter) Corbett pledged “I’m not going to let them poison our water.”  The important word in there is the verb.  He isn’t going to… because he already has…  If anyone believes he will going forward please begin holding your breath.

News & Notes March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!  Hereby declare that spring has arrived.  Party on.

The situation in Japan is deepening daily.  No one believes anything being said by either Tokyo Power or the Japanese government.  The same thing happened at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl.  There seem to be meltdowns at two of the six reactors at Dai’ichi and spent fuel rods in cooling ponds are also exposed.  A nuclear plume is now on its way encircling the earth while American officials continue to claim that nuclear power is safe.  Yes, the world is also flat.

We’re now entering the fourth part of this disaster.  The quake was first, the tsunami second, the nuclear meltdown third and now an economic meltdown.  Japan will need to begin its vast investment in U.S. Treasury bonds to finance rebuilding its country.  This will greatly reduce the market for future bonds and cripple America’s ability to continue deficits and foster economic growth.  Meanwhile markets are collapsing.

Tom Corbett’s budget isn’t being welcomed.  A F&M poll shows clear opposition to his austerity cuts and refusal to tax gas extraction.  78% are against his cuts for public education, 67% oppose the higher education cuts, 72% say he should tax smokeless tobacco and cigars, 62% want an extraction tax 64% support privatizing the state liquor stores.  The Wine & Spirits Shoppes contribute $500 million a year to the state general fund every year.  Are they willing to pay more income tax to replace that revenue?  No by 68%.  Where do they think the money is coming from?  If the people want to be tough on crime, lock everyone up, they have to be willing to pay for it.

Sen. Bob Casey has introduced his FRAC Act again.  The Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals (FRAC) Act increases accountability by requiring better disclosure and regulation.  Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) is the House sponsor.

WFMZ Channel 69 had egg on its face Tuesday evening when it ran this graphic before the polls had even closed:

New State Senator Judy Schwank is hitting the ground running as budget hearing are set to get underway in Harrisburg.  The Berks County Elections Board must still certify the election results before she can be sworn in.  Sen. O’Pake’s staff remains in place providing her with people from the get go.

The next State Senate special election is likely to be for Jane Orie’s Pittsburgh area seat.  Once her retrial on public corruption charges is rescheduled potential candidates will begin lining up support.  Following her first trial and the announcement her defense fabricated evidence her conviction seems to be inevitable.  The vast amount of evidence against her proved indefensible.

Republicans have decided (along with too many union officials) that teachers must accept pay freezes.  This is because Wall Street bankers defrauded public pension funds of $7 trillion with junk securities rated AAA.  Fraudulent mortgages sold illegally contributed to the collapse of the economy forcing sales and income taxes to plummet.  The recession is entirely their fault but they want you to pay for it.  How fair is that?  Why aren’t we imposing major taxes on these criminal banks to recapture that money?  Why are we punishing teachers instead?

Yet another Republican needs to learn to keep his real opinions to himself.  This one in Kansas thinks immigrants should be treated like wild animals and shot from helicopters like wild hogs.

Schwank Crushes Medaglia

Final returns tonight gave Judy Schwank a decisive 20,124 to 14,794 victory in the 11th Senate special election.  Mike O’Pake is smiling somewhere.  The contest was to fill the unexpired term of the late Senator who passed away December 27th.  The 58%-42% win was decisive and various factors combined to send the Republican to defeat.  Going extremely negative against a well liked, well known and well regarded woman is always dangerous.  Voters react viscerally when they see a man trying to beat up a woman whether it is literal or figurative.  Add in the effort in Wisconsin and other states to deny people their collective bargaining rights and it was a perfect storm for a Democrat.  Tom Corbett’s extreme budget last week insured that every educator in the District would vote Democratic.